[Ads-l] fuck ton

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Aug 6 21:47:39 EDT 2018

> On Aug 6, 2018, at 12:09 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> Not to boast, but all the um- and non-um-words in that collection of
> Joyce's letters that are relevant to American usage are in (or were slated
> to be in later volumes of)  HDAS.
> JL

True enough, but while _cock_ ‘vulva” has an entry in HDAS*, the Joycean _cock_ ‘clitoris’ (as in the 3 December 1909 letter to Nora excerpted below) or, for that matter, _cockey_ (from the letter to Nora six days later), does not.  I would wager, without any particular support for it, that many languages use a diminutive for one of their ‘penis’ words for ‘clitoris’, a la _cockey_. 


*HDAS, s.v. _cock_, n. 3: So. & Black E. 
a. The vulva or vagina; cunt.

Jon does give a tentative etymology:  
“perh. fr.  Eng. Dial. _cock_ ‘cockle, shell-fish’”
which does indeed seem to suggest the “coquille” etymology Gawne notes.  Am I right in recall some pushback from someone on the list (maybe Jon himself) against this derivation? The 1867 Doten journal entry which (after decoding) reveals that the diarist and his “lady love went to bed and felt of each other’s cocks all [they] pleased” before she climbed aboard would seem to challenge the idea that the two senses have completely distinct etymologies and to point toward polysemy rather than homonymy.  Or (just speculating) could Doten have been referring, like Joyce, to “that little cock at the end of [her] cunt”?  Does it affect our speculation to recall that Doten, who hailed from Plymouth, MA and traveled to California for the Gold Rush and Nevada, was (like Joyce) not fluent in either So. or Black E.?    

> On Mon, Aug 6, 2018 at 10:55 AM Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
> wrote:
>> Very nice, and it speaks below to a thread we indulged in a while back,
>> with a slight twist.  (And note the references to Jesse and Jon.). The
>> derivation of _cock_ ‘vulva’ (as opposed to ‘clitoris’) from _coquille_ was
>> indeed entertained in our earlier colloquies but, if memory serves,
>> dismissed (or at least vigorously challenged).
>> LH
>> P.S.  Nice glosswork by Lauren Gawne, but can someone who labors in the
>> vineyards of antique umliterature really have been innocent of
>> “cockstand”?
>> =======================
>> Cock (female genitals)
>> “If he did, did they go far enough to touch that little cock at the end of
>> your cunt?” (3 December 1909)
>> The use of ‘cock’ to mean clitoris is uncommon. There’s no attestation in
>> the OED, MW or even Green’s Dictionary of Slang.
>> Update: The above paragraph previously read: “The use of ‘cock’ to mean
>> female genitalia rather than male is uncommon.” There is an entry in
>> Green’s Dictionary of Slang for ‘cock’ meaning female genitals in general,
>> and attested use in British English from 1833. He gives the origin as the
>> French coquille (a shell of the kind like an oyster or cockle). This sense
>> of ‘cock’ has also been the predominent sense in Southern American English.
>> In an article on the US ‘cock’ dialect divide, Jesse Sheidlower notes that
>> in Historical Dictionary of American Slang the earliest record of ‘cock’
>> for female genitalia is 1867. I learnt a thing today.
>> Other example:
>> “Tickle your little cockey while you write to make you say worse and
>> worse.” (9 December 1909)
>> ======================
>>> On Aug 6, 2018, at 10:22 AM, Andy Bach <afbach at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>>>> On Mon, Jul 30, 2018 at 7:34 PM, Jonathan Lighter <
>> wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
>>>>> wrote:
>>>>> A handy guide from Iva Cheung on the Strong Language blog...
>>>>> https://stronglang.wordpress.com/2015/01/31/units-of-fucking-measure/
>>> Interesting site - they offer up yet another "mickey" which might help
>> the
>>> "take the mickey out of" search, from James Joyce's lecherous letters to
>>> his wife, Nora:
>> https://stronglang.wordpress.com/2017/05/08/fuckbird-cockstand-and-frigging-some-annotations-of-james-joyces-erotic-letters-to-his-wife-nora-barnacle/
>>> Mickey
>>> “gently take out your lover’s fat mickey, lap it up in your moist mouth”
>> (8
>>> December 1909)
>>> This is a predominantly Irish English slang term for penis. Two of the
>> four
>>> quotes in the OED for the term are from Joyce (one of which is from these
>>> letters). Be careful though, ‘Mickey’ is a lot of things to a lot of
>>> different people, not only is it a cartoon mouse, but also a Roman
>> Catholic
>>> or Irish person, or (I assume by extension) a potato (US English), a
>>> bullock or noisy miner bird (Australian English) or a small bottle of
>>> liquor (Canadian English).
>>> --
>>> a
>>> Andy Bach,
>>> afbach at gmail.com
>>> 608 658-1890 cell
>>> 608 261-5738 wk
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> -- 
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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